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Amalfi Drive

Amalfi Coast, Italy, Europe: tiny harbor of Vallone di Furore is tucked into a gorge along the hair-raising Amalfi's insider take:

The corniche road, Amalfi Drive, provides one of the world's hairiest and most scenic motoring experiences—veering vertiginously around the jagged edge of the Lattari Mountains, twisting and tunneling and hairpin-bending, providing vista after stunning vista of gorges, bridges, cliffs plunging vertically into the glassy Tyrrhenian Sea, and sudden improbable villages tucked picturesquely into the landscape. Of course, the designated driver will miss the scenery, being too busy concentrating on the white knuckles: John Steinbeck, who used to come here in the 1950s, claimed the Amalfi Drive was "carefully designed to be a little narrower than two cars side by side." From the east, the route begins in Salerno, a working port city with a Norman Duomo. Beyond the town of Vietri sul Mare, famous for its colorful ceramicware, the road skirts the imposing bulk of Monte dell'Avvocata, passing Cetara, a salty fishing town that represents the Amalfi Coast at its least touristy. After the low-key resorts of Maiori and Minori comes the historic town of Amalfi, the coast's unofficial capital. Worthwhile stops between Amalfi and Positano include the Vallone di Furore, pictured, a rare Mediterranean fjord, whose steep rock walls shelter an enclave of fishermen's houses and their tiny harbor; and Praiano, a pretty, low-key alternative to the glitz of Positano. West of Positano, the road enters its most spectacular stretch: The nine-mile Nastro Azzurro, which clings to the side of the cliffs as it climbs to Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi: From there, it's a steep descent down into Sorrento on the other side of the peninsula.

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